The Current State of Marketing Attribution: Three Things You Need to Know

By Rus Ackner / 4 minutes

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Marketing attribution has long remained a relatively simple idea: spend money on marketing campaigns, evaluate views and clicks against revenues, and increase investment where profitability lies. However, with the expansion of technology and digital platforms, the modern consumer has become extremely difficult to understand from a marketer’s perspective. The number of channels for consumers to engage with has skyrocketed, and it has become essential for retail marketers to ensure that they are using the right channels and allocating their budget efficiently to optimize their ROI. 

In April 2019, we conducted a survey with members of the Retail Ascendant to get insight into the current state of marketing attribution and to confront these challenges. Of those surveyed, many reported difficulty and lack of confidence in measuring attribution correctly. Accurate marketing attribution holds the potential to influence critical decisions, and while everyone wants to be better at it, few have seemed to have figured it out. Continue reading for three key ways you can improve your attribution strategies based on our findings.

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1. Map the entire consumer journey

Retail marketers reported they are eager to “close the loop” — or better understand the entire consumer journey from the beginning. Understanding this journey is valuable for informed decision making, but it remains a challenge. The retailers also reported that a majority of their attribution is being done by marketers, not analysts, which means their companies are not taking the most scientific approach to analyzing the data. 

By mapping the entire consumer journey, retailers can accurately tie performance to specific placements and campaigns to recognize how these efforts influence each other. After all, knowing the truth about how your campaigns are performing is essential to your ultimate success as a marketer.

2. Monitor the privacy debate

According to the study, 70% of respondents say that privacy issues have had an insignificant impact on their company thus far. However, over 70% believe that it will impact their company down the road, and with existing legislation like GDPR and upcoming legislation like CCPA, the privacy space is rapidly developing. It is necessary for marketers to monitor the privacy debate and ensure that their company is constantly adapting and using data that is privacy-compliant.

As more of this kind of legislation is passed and unease about information security continues, choosing the right attribution strategies and partnerships could become more important than the campaigns themselves, from a brand safety perspective.

3. Apply digital thinking to TV and OOH

According to our study, retailers have overwhelmingly switched to digital platforms to reflect the changing industry. However, less than half of the respondents were monitoring more traditional routes to market, which creates a blind spot regarding cross-channel measurement

Brands that use cross-channel advertising can create a better user experience, and new options such as more robust out-of-home (OOH) networks have revived traditional ad media. According to eMarketer, OOH is projected to grow in ad spending because the medium is unblockable, unskippable, and delivers impact at scale.

Therefore, it has become even more important to consider these media when looking to improve attribution and impact. Often, TV accounts for a larger portion of ROI than it is credited for, and OOH actually contributes to a majority of footfall traffic. In order to measure the impact of these channels accurately, marketers need to identify partners who offer real-world attribution metrics as well as cross-platform media measurement

Some retailers we spoke to believe that it is crucial to get attribution right in order to optimize their spending. Others believe that accurate attribution is valuable because it creates an accountability mindset, and team members spend more responsibly knowing their results will be assessed. 

For more insights on the most important aspects of successful attribution strategies, be sure to check out our white paper.

About the Author

Rus Ackner